Hydrangeas in pots? Yes, please! Today, I’m showing you how to bring these colorful beauties to life on your balcony or deck. From planting to winterizing, this beginner-friendly guide empowers you to grow hydrangeas like a pro.

Hydrangeas are beloved for their stunning blooms that add a touch of elegance to any garden space. But did you know you can enjoy these beauties even without a sprawling garden?

Growing hydrangeas in pots is a great option for those who want to bring vibrant color to their outdoor space and enjoy the versatility that container gardening offers.

This comprehensive guide will equip you with all the knowledge you need to cultivate thriving hydrangeas in pots.

(Posts on stacyling.com may contain affiliate links. Click HERE for full disclosure.)

Introduction to Hydrangeas: Versatile Shrubs for Container Gardening

In general, hydrangeas have a USDA hardiness zone of 4-9 depending on the variety you grow. Hydrangeas are easy-care flowers with a range of colors that include blues, purples, pinks, whites, and chartreuse.

There are lots of different varieties to choose from. Some are reblooming, while others will bloom once and be done until the following season.

But what if you lack growing space? You can totally grow hydrangeas in pots! Here’s how.

Vibrant light green hydrangea paniculata blooms with white tips flourishing in a lush garden setting, showcasing healthy growth and dense foliage - limelight hydrangeas

Selecting the Best Hydrangea Varieties for Pot Cultivation

There are several hydrangea varieties to choose from, each with its own charm. Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are the most popular for containers, offering large, showy blooms in various colors.

Lacecap hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata) boast beautiful lace-like flower clusters, while smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) are known for their large, conical flower heads.

But choosing the right hydrangea doesn’t stop there. Look for dwarf or smaller-sized varieties that will be better suited for the growing space you have.

It’s also important to choose a hydrangea that is zoned two zones higher than the one you currently garden in. This will help ensure they survive cold winters planted in containers on your deck, patio, balcony, or rooftop. This means, if you live in zone 6, you’ll want to choose a hydrangea that can handle zone 4.

Not sure what your hardiness zone is? You can check it out here.

Best Dwarf Hydrangea Varieties for Container Gardening

When you are shopping around for small-sized hydrangeas, look for keywords like “mini”, “dwarf” and “little”. Here are some great examples of dwarf hydrangeas from Proven Winners that would do well in pots.

  • Invincibelle Wee White
  • Invincibelle Mini Mauvette
  • Let’s Dance Arriba
  • Little Lime
  • Little Lime Punch
  • Little Quick Fire
  • Tiny Tuff Stuff
  • Wee Bit Grumpy
  • Wee Bit Giddy
  • Wee Bit Innocent
Pink and white hydrangea clusters in full bloom, highlighted by morning dew, set against a background of green leaves and a shaded garden
Panicle Hydrangea

Optimal Sun Exposure for Thriving Hydrangeas in Pots

In general, hydrangeas thrive in locations with full sun, receiving at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. However, some varieties like Endless Summer prefer partial shade, especially in hotter climates. They thrive in the morning sun and after shade in my zone 6b garden.

Read your plant tags or online description before purchasing so you know what variety will thrive best with your light conditions.

And I strongly recommend saving those tags either in your email, a notebook, or take a pic and keep it on your phone so you can easily reference it. I can’t tell you how often I’ve not remembered the variety I have and all the other things associated with that particular plant.

Keep in mind that more sun exposure often translates to more blooms, so be sure to choose a location that matches your desired sunlight conditions.

A variety of colorful ceramic garden pots on display at a garden center, featuring different sizes and patterns suitable for hydrangea planting.
DIY potting bench idea made from wood pallet

Choosing the Ideal Containers for Thriving Hydrangeas

When choosing a pot for your hydrangea, drainage is key. Select a container with large drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating around the roots, which can lead to rot.

Material plays a role as well. Clay pots offer classic aesthetics but can dry out faster. They also will not weather the freezing and thawing of winter and will need protection from the elements.

Plastic pots are lighter and retain moisture better, but they may not be ideal for very hot climates. For best results, opt for a pot material that suits your climate and preferences.

Size matters too. As your hydrangea grows, it will need sufficient space for its roots to expand. Choose a pot that is at least 18-24 inches in diameter for most hydrangea varieties.

Close-up of blue and pink lacecap hydrangeas displaying intricate flower patterns amid vibrant green leaves, ideal for ornamental garden settings
Lacecap hydrangea

How to Plant Hydrangeas in Pots: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

To give your hydrangea the best start, select a well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. A mixture of potting soil, compost, leaf mold, and perlite is a good option.

When planting, gently remove the hydrangea from its original pot and loosen the roots slightly. Place the plant in the new pot, ensuring the top of the root ball sits just below the rim.

Fill the remaining space with potting mix, tamping it down gently to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly until water runs out of the drainage holes.

Lush hydrangea blooms transitioning from green to pink, with a close-up view showing the delicate pink-tipped petals and healthy green foliage

Essential Maintenance Tips for Healthy Potted Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are thirsty plants, so consistent watering is crucial. Water deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, allowing excess water to drain freely. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely, especially during hot weather.

It is best to water the base of plants in the earlier part of the day so the water has a chance to evaporate. Doing so will help prevent pest and disease problems.

To make things easier, I recommend setting up drip irrigation that is set on a timer. This will help keep your potted hydrangeas well-hydrated throughout hot summers with no work from you!

Fertilizing your hydrangea once a month during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer will promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. I generally don’t recommend fertilizing hydrangeas in the ground but when grown in pots they need it. Every time you water, nutrients wash out of the soil and the plant needs them to produce big beautiful blooms.

However, be mindful not to over-fertilize, as this can damage the plant. When growing hydrangeas in pots, I prefer to use Espoma Holly Tone for blue flowers and Flower Tone for all others.

Applying a layer of mulch around the base of your hydrangea will help retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weeds.

Dense clusters of vivid blue hydrangea flowers, surrounded by green leaves, showcasing the rich color and full blossoms characteristic of well-maintained hydrangeas.
Hydrangea with Blue Flowers: The Basics of Hydrangea Care

Pruning Techniques for Lush and Beautiful Hydrangea Blooms

Regular pruning encourages bushier growth and larger blooms. For Bigleaf hydrangeas, prune in late summer or early fall after the flowers have faded. Pruning them any later than that, and you risk cutting off next year’s flowers.

If you are growing panicle hydrangeas, they bloom on new wood and should be pruned in late winter/early spring.

Not sure when to prune? I explain when and how to prune in this post.

Gardener's hand using pruning shears to trim a hydrangea bush, focusing on pink hydrangea flowers, demonstrating proper garden maintenance and care

How to Alter Flower Color in Bigleaf Hydrangeas: A Gardener’s Guide

The fascinating aspect of Bigleaf hydrangeas is that you can influence the color of their blooms by adjusting the soil pH. Acidic soil (pH below 6.0) promotes blue blooms, while alkaline soil (pH above 7.0) encourages pink flowers. You can find readily available soil testing kits and amendments (aluminum sulfate for lowering pH, lime for raising pH) at most gardening stores.

I never mess with flower color because I believe it’s best to let nature do it’s thing without intervention from me. Anytime we try to influence something in our gardens, we risk causing issues so to me, it’s best to let the flowers be the color the plant chooses to produce.

Expansive garden featuring a mix of white and blue hydrangeas in full bloom, integrated into a landscaped garden setting with various greenery and a fence backdrop

Winter Care Strategies for Potted Hydrangeas to Ensure Spring Vitality

In colder climates (USDA zones 3-6), potted hydrangeas may need winter protection to protect the buds for next year’s flowers. Once temperatures start to dip, group similar-sized potted plants together and insulate the containers with burlap, mulch, or bubble wrap.

In extremely cold regions, you may also need to relocate your potted hydrangea to a sheltered location like a garage or unheated shed.

I considered doing this after one winter in my former garden with my in-ground hydrangeas. My hydrangeas didn’t bloom well after a harsh winter we had. I never did it and we wound up having more mild winters since. But I know lots of gardeners in colder regions that protect theirs religiously every fall.

When growing hydrangeas in pots, I recommend protecting them with burlap to help keep the plant snug as a bug during harsh winter temperatures.

Colorful display of lacecap hydrangeas featuring shades of pink, blue, and white, interspersed with vibrant green leaves, showcasing the diversity of hydrangea flower forms.
Lacecap hydrangea with both pink flowers and blue flowers

Solving Common Issues with Potted Hydrangeas: Pests, Diseases, and More

While hydrangeas are pretty easy to grow, there are a few signs to look out for so you keep them healthy and beautiful all season long.

If your hydrangea leaves are wilting, it’s likely a sign of underwatering. Increase watering frequency and ensure proper drainage. This is why I suggest using drip irrigation set on timers. You’ll water more consistently in the hotter months of the year and the plant will do better.

Poor bloom production can be caused by insufficient sunlight, lack of fertilizer, or incorrect pruning. Ensure your hydrangea receives adequate sunlight based on the variety, fertilize it regularly during the growing season, and follow proper pruning techniques for your specific variety.

A rustic woven basket filled with freshly cut hydrangea blooms, including pink, blue, and faded green flowers, set against a wooden background, perfect for rustic home decor or a naturalistic garden display.

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Hydrangeas in Containers: Expert Answers and Tips

While growing hydrangeas in pots adds a splash of vibrant color and charm to any outdoor living space, it can come with a set of challenges and questions. In this section, I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to provide you with expert insights and practical tips.

Whether you’re curious about the best soil mix, watering schedules, or how to get those stunning blooms, you’ll find reliable answers here that will help ensure your potted hydrangeas thrive season after season.

Can potted hydrangeas stay outside?

Yes, potted hydrangeas can stay outside all year round but you’ll need to take some precautions before attempting to do so. Make sure the hydrangea variety you choose can handle two zones more than what you garden in. For example, if you garden in zone 6, make sure that hydrangea is zoned for at least 4.

Also, it’s important to choose the right type of material for your planter. Clay or terracotta will break if left outside during the freeze and thaw of winter, so opt for something more durable.

And, if you garden where winters are harsh, protect hydrangeas in pots with burlap to keep them warm and cozy. This will help prevent winter damage to roots and flower buds for the following season.

summer garden deer resistant flowers with butterfly bush and caryopteris
Butterfly garden with caryopteris, butterfly bush, hydrangeas, and more

How long can hydrangeas live in pots?

You can grow successfully in a large container for several years but will need to transplant them to a larger container or in the ground to keep them vibrant and healthy.

The lifespan of a hydrangea in a container depends on factors such as the size of the pot, soil quality, and consistent care regarding watering, feeding, and pruning.

Generally, with the right conditions, hydrangeas can thrive in pots for a few to 10 years or more. To maximize the lifespan and health of your potted hydrangeas, ensure they are planted in a large enough pot to accommodate their root growth, provide adequate drainage, and fertilize them regularly.

Regularly refreshing the soil yearly and providing winter protection if needed are also crucial to their long-term success in containers.

I usually recommend repotting or transplanting them after a year or two to refresh the soil, give roots more space to grow and ensure the plant does not get pot bound.

Vibrant light green hydrangea paniculata blooms with white tips flourishing in a lush garden setting, showcasing healthy growth and dense foliage (limelight hydrangeas)

More About Growing Hydrangeas in Pots

By following these simple steps and providing your hydrangea with the care it craves, you’ll be rewarded with a captivating display of blooms throughout the season.

So, don’t be discouraged by limited space – with a little planning and this comprehensive guide, you can bring the elegance and charm of hydrangeas to your very own patio or balcony.

Have you ever grown Hydrangeas in pots before? If so, what variety? I would love to know more in the comments below.

For more information about growing hydrangeas in pots, please see this article from Garden Design.

To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear! And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would find it helpful too.

Happy Gardening!

Stacy Ling

More About Hydrangeas

blue hydrangea flowers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 Comments

  1. Stacy, your post is so timely. Last night my husband came home with a large potted hydrangea. We cannot grow them outside here. I hope to take it up to our mountain cabin so it will survive outside this summer. Thanks for all the great advice!